New York Yankees: Are the Bombers Headed for a Red Sox/Braves-Like Collapse?

Doug Rush@Doug_RushSenior Analyst ISeptember 4, 2012

ST. PETERSBURG - SEPTEMBER 03:  Manager Joe Girardi #28 and General Manager Brian Cashman of the New York Yankees watch their team during batting practice just before the start of the game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on September 3, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida.  (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
J. Meric/Getty Images

Houston, we have a problem,

Well, more like, the Bronx, but we have a serious problem. Right now, the Yankees flat-out stink.

Their lead in the American League East over the Baltimore Orioles has withered down to one game and Baltimore isn't going away anytime soon.

Nope, Buck Showalter has his group believing in themselves when nobody else in baseball would, the former Yankee skipper has the Birds believing, and winning for that matter; something the Yankees seem to have forgotten to do lately.

In the middle of August, everything seemed to be all right, especially after they had taken three out of four against the A.L. Champion Texas Rangers and two out of three against the Boston Red Sox, which at the time made them 72-49.

Since then, they've only won one series against the Cleveland Indians and are 4-9 in that span; which is a big reason why their lead in the A.L. East is now just one game.

Unfortunately, it's not just one thing that can be fixed overnight. It's a bunch of things.

Sure, the injuries have piled up on the team, but with the Yankees payroll, nobody will feel sorry for the Yankees players getting hurt.

Still, when star players get hurt, it's devastating.

The team just got Alex Rodriguez back, which hopefully can give the team somewhat of a boost, but A-Rod ultimately won't be the savior.

Mark Teixeira is still out, and he is a big bat that the Yankees need to have back ASAP. Having Teixeira out shortens the lineup, plus not having his glove in the field hurts the defense too.

Some people will want to point fingers at Curtis Granderson who is hitting .234 right now, but he's also got 34 home runs, which again leads the team. His strikeout totals are a little too high, but you can't deny the power he brings to the lineup, especially during the period when both A-Rod and Teixeira were out.

You can't even blame Derek Jeter during any of this because the 38-year-old captain has barely been out of the lineup, and is still hustling and working hard every single day. Jeter gets none of the blame for this.

The rotation hasn't exactly been impressive. While CC Sabathia pitched a decent game on Monday afternoon, it wasn't the best performance he ever gave. But I won't shoulder the blame on Sabathia.

However, Phil Hughes seriously needs to get his act together, because this is the time frame where the Yankees need him the most. Two starters are on the DL, and Joe Girardi is counting on him to pitch in crucial situations, and he ends up putting the Yankees in early holes.

This is why unfortunately, Andy Pettitte's presence in the rotation is so important. Yes, the Yankees shouldn't have to look at a 40-year-old to be the savior, but guess what, he does.

When Pettitte was pitching, he gave the whole rotation a boost and made everyone else, including Hughes, pitch even better. Hopefully by the time Pettitte comes off the DL, the Yankees will be either leading the race or at least still be in it for Pettitte to compete in meaningful games.

And of course the bullpen, which is without Mariano Rivera for the season after he tore his ACL back in May.

Rafael Soriano has stepped up in the closer's role and David Robertson isn't as lights out as he was last year, but still has a good ERA.

One guy the Yankees can't count on right now is Joba Chamberlain, who in nine games, has a 10.57 ERA. Sure, he hadn't pitched in over a year, but right now, he barely resembles a major league reliever, and he was supposed to be counted on to give the bullpen a boost.

We all remember last season when the Red Sox finished 7-20 in the month of September and lost the wild-card spot to the Rays. Same thing for the Braves, who finished 9-18 and lost theirs to the eventual World Series champion Cardinals.

The way the Yankees are going, they are trending towards that kind of collapse. At one time during the season, the Yankees had a 10-game lead, which was back on July 18.

Since that mark, they are 19-24, not exactly the typical Yankees baseball we've seen.

Whether the Yankees have decided to "get old" all at the same time, or if the injuries have caught up to the team, or they are relying too much on the home run, it's gotten out of hand.

George Steinbrenner would have said something by now to Girardi and Brian Cashman if he were still alive. You know that meeting would have taken place last week in Tampa.

Hal Steinbrenner isn't that kind of owner, he's quiet and doesn't like to draw attention to himself in the press, so don't expect that kind of meeting from him anytime soon.

But the Yankees need to start feeling that sense of urgency, otherwise, they are headed for the collapse that their division rivals encountered just one year ago.

And that will be an ugly situation in this town.

If you thought the 2007 Mets collapse was bad, a 2012 Yankees collapse would be even worse.

Hopefully for Yankee fans, it doesn't ever get to that point.

Stay tuned, Yankees Universe.


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